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The Senate has canceled their week-long July 4th vacation so they can continue working on a deal to raise the debt ceiling, the deadline for which has been pushed forward to July 22nd. But while those discussions take place in back rooms out of the public view, the full Senate will publicly debate a bill to provide congressional authorization of U.S. involvement in the war in Libya for up to one year.

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Dealing WIth Libya

June 3, 2011 - by Donny Shaw

House Republicans have finally decided on how to deal with the growing discontent over that pesky, probably unconstitutional war in Libya. They're going to put the Dennis Kucinich [D, OH-10] withdrawalresolution that they pulled from the floor earlier in the week because it might have passed back on the calendar for a vote Friday. But they're also going to hold a vote on a new, non-binding resolution, from Speaker John Boehner [R, OH-8], that criticizes that Obama for not go through the proper channels in authorizing the war and requiring him to provide Congress with detailed info about the rationale behind getting involved. The strategy: give anti-war and constitutionalist Reps. something meaningful to vote for, but also give middle-of-the-road Reps. a way to allow Obama to continue his war but still be able to tell their constituents that they voted against it.

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Yesterday, House Republican leadership pulled Rep. Dennis Kucinich's [D, OH-10] resolution forcing an end to U.S. involvement in Libya from the floor after it became clear that it may have actually passed. The Republicans either don't want to give Kucinich a win, or they don't actually want to get in the way of the expansion of presidential war authority. They do, however, want to take the opportunity to embarrass Obama. And they want to at least appear to defend Congress' constitutional role as the sole war-declaring power. So they're in a bit of a pickle. 

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The House Republican leadership is worried that Congress might stand up to the Obama Administration and assert its constitutional prerogative as the only branch of government that can declare war. The House was scheduled to vote this afternoon on a a privileged resolution from Rep. Dennis Kucinich [D, OH-10]directing the President, pursuant to the War Powers Act, to remove U.S. armed forces from Libya. But the House leadership has pulled it from the floor because, according to Republican aides who spoke with Fox News, "it became clear that it might succeed."

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Back when Barack Obama was a member of the Senate, he had a reputation as a sharp critic of the expansion of presidential powers. For example, when the Bush Administration was looking into expanding the Iraq war into Iran, Obama introduced a resolution stating that Congress would have to authorize military action in Iran in order for it to be lawful. "Any offensive military action taken by the United States against Iran must be explicitly authorized by Congress," the resolution reads. It goes on to declare that no executive orders or laws previously adopted by Congress should be construed to authorize or encourage the use of military force in Iran.

But now that he is President, Obama doesn't seem to believe any longer that he needs the authorization of Congress to go to war. On Saturday, March 19, just as Congress was scheduled to go on vacation, he unilaterally authorized the U.S. military to lead a UN coalition in missile attacks on Libyan military infrastructure and troops that pose a threat to the rebel opposition.

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Defunding Libya

March 23, 2011 - by Donny Shaw

When Congress comes back from recess they're going to have about a week and a half to pass another stopgap bill to prevent the government running. If the military operation in Libya are still going on at that point, as many expect they will be, the bill, which is considered a "must pass," will give Congress an opportunity to use their authority over federal budget to wind it down. That effort is going to be led by Rep. Dennis Kucinich [D, OH-10], who announced his intention to introduce a defund Libya amendment in a "Dear Colleague" letter yesterday:

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Should Congress Have Been Consulted Re: Libya?

March 20, 2011 - by Donny Shaw

Over the weekend the U.S. military has been participating in airstrikes against the Libyan government, bombing Libyan air defense sites in order to enforce a no-fly zone, tanks near Benghazi in order to protect rebel soldiers, and, most recently, Gadhafi's command center in Tripoli. Whether or not the attacks will directly target Libyan ground forces has yet to be seen. The attacks, known as operation Odyssey Dawn, are being carried out under the UN Security Council resolution that backs the use of military force to prevent the Libyan government from using their military to attack civilians. But some members of Congress, from both parties, see the attacks as an unlawful breach of Congress' power to declare war, and some are going as far as calling for impeachment.

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